Bougie on a budget: How to do Tuscany for cheap

Feb 16, 2020

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We here at TPG love a good deal — more than that, we love a good deal on a spendy location. Today we’re looking at Tuscany, the world-famous wine region in Italy that’s inspired one love story after another.

Hotels

While Tuscany is rife with rich hotels and boutique B&Bs, you’ve got a variety of options for high-end hotels on a budget. First, the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa is a gorgeous Marriott property that sits at Category 4, which makes this hotel cost just 30,000 points/night.

Image courtesy of Marriott.
Image courtesy of Marriott.

With Marriott’s easy-to-earn award points and portfolio of co-branded credit cards, snagging a stay here is easily obtainable. For maximum bang for your buck, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is offering 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

If you’re a Hilton fan, the Hilton Florence Metropole is a steal at 40,000 points/night. With views of the duomo and an executive lounge for Diamond members, the property is a great way to stretch your points. If you don’t already have status, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card is my personal favorite for achieving elite status on the cheap.

Finally, if you’re a Hyatt loyalist you’ll be pleased to know that the chain’s partnership with SLH has resulted in several properties throughout Tuscany. Most sit at a Category 6, but the Villa Le Maschere is a fabulous country house just outside of Florence slated at Category 5 (for 20,000 points/night). Considering Hyatt is a 1:1 transfer partner with Chase, your Ultimate Rewards will go far here.

Image courtesy of SLH.
Image courtesy of SLH.

Airfare

While you aren’t going to find nonstop fares to Florence, you can routinely find one-stop deals for under $500.

However, if you’re looking to spend no money at all, you’re in luck. Nearly every major carrier and low-budget airline routes through Europe, which means that if you’ve got points to burn with Star Alliance, Skyteam or Oneworld, you can maximize your miles on a flight to Europe and connect onward to Florence for cheap (or even free).

Saver business-class awards to Europe are not terribly hard to come by and cost just 57,500 AAdvantage miles, plus $5.60 each way. You can earn nearly this number of miles with a single credit card sign-up bonus, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, which is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening.

My favorite technique is to use Avianca LifeMiles (transferred from Capital One, Citi and American Express), to book flights across the ocean for 30,000 miles (63,000 in business class). Avianca, though one of the lesser-known Star Alliance members, frequently offers phenomenal deals on purchased miles and doesn’t add on fuel surcharges, which makes it my go-to airline for spending as little money as possible.

Even better, Avianca doesn’t differentiate between the east coast and west coast when booking awards, which means I can snag a flight from Los Angeles as easily as I can from New York, with no difference in cost.

Bottom line

It’s a hard-knock life for us rich resort wannabes, but luckily options abound in Italy’s Tuscan region for the frugal-minded. Take advantage of low-cost flights and hotels without sacrificing style so you can be bougie on a budget.

Feature photo courtesy of Klaus Stebani/Pixabay.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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